The long-time former Pastor of Londonderry’s Free Presbyterian Congregation, Rev. Ian Brown, robustly defended Rev. James McConnell in a sermon last September even as the elderly preacher was being prosecuted through the local Courts.
Rev. Brown, now of Martyrs’ Memorial Free Presbyterian Church in Belfast, defended his evangelical colleague from the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle, saying, if his comments that Islam was ‘heathen,’ ‘Satanic,’ and ‘spawned in hell’ were to be outlawed, the Government would have to outlaw sections of the Bible and the Westminster Confession of Faith.
On September 2, Rev. Brown, described the trial variously as ‘misguided and malicious,’ ‘ludicrous, and ‘thoroughly deplorable.’
Rev. Brown also described Deputy first Minister Martin McGuinness’ condemnation of Rev. McConnell as a “further delicious irony.”
He said Pastor McConnell’s persecution was one of a “growing number of examples, in which the British authorities, who routinely ignore an incendiary speech over here by Muslim extremists and over there by Muslim extremists” are “pushing in the hate laws” to silence Christians.
On Rev. McConnell’s comments, which the PPS contended where “grossly offensive,” but which District Judge, Liam McNally, found this week, merely “offensive,” Rev. Brown asked rhetorically: “Do we agree with his sentiments? Is Islam heathen? Satanic? And a doctrine spawned in hell?”
He continued: “Now that may well be all evangelical flourish but those words are comparable to the language used in scripture.
“I read, for example, from Revelation 2: 9: ‘I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.’
“Our Lord is saying there was a Satanic influence in that place. The devil has his synagogue. Pretty much what James McConnell said.
“Also, what he said is comparable to language that we find in our subordinate standard in Presbyterianism, the Westminster Confession of Faith. If you were to flick over in that volume to Chapter 25, of the WCF, section 5, you’ll find reference made in the Westminster Confession of Faith to ‘Synagogues of Satan.’
“The code is this: ‘The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated, as to become no Churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan.
‘Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth to worship God according to His will.’
“If what James McConnell said is to be outlawed so must Revelation 2 and so must the Westminster Confession at these points.”
He went on to describe Islam as a heathen religion.
“It’s really a pagan religion, reformed, repackaged into monotheism.’
“So is Islam heathen? Definitely in its origins.”